Christianity and theology

With Fear and Trembling

In my previous post, we looked  at the first part of  Philippians 2:12, 13 which reads: “Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed… work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and work for his good pleasure.”

We discussed what “work out your salvation’ means. Today I would like us to all look at the phrase:  “with fear and trembling.” What does this mean? Does it mean that believers should always live in fear that their salvation might be lost or God will take it away from them?

Not at all! Scripture now and again assures all believers that they are in safe hands of Christ and no one or anything can snatch them from the hand of Christ. In other words, believers cannot lose their salvation (John 10:27, 28; Romans 8:38, 39; Ephesians 2:13, 14; Philippians 1:6). Therefore, “with fear and trembling” does not mean that believers should be afraid of losing their salvation.

The phrase, rather, refers to awe and reverence that automatically comes out of believers when they ponder at their salvation, especially, on how God humbled himself to become a despised servant and later die on the cross for sinners and his enemies and rose from the dead. This act leaves believers with no other option but marvel at how this could be. It is this reverence of failing to fully grasp the depth of God’s love and grace that the phrase is referring to.

For sure salvation is an awesome thing and we can agree with Paul that the  gift of Christ to the fallen world is “an indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).

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Christianity and theology

Work Out Your Salvation

Philippians 2:12, 13 reads:  “Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed… work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and work for his good pleasure.”

Do these verses teach that salvation is by works? Not at all! Salvation means more than just regeneration (being born-again) because salvation includes being declared righteous before God on the basis of Christ’s righteousness (justification) and being conformed to the character of Christ (sanctification).

These verses are referring to sanctification.  In sanctification God plays his role and we pray our role too. God gives us the grace to will and work for his good pleasure but it takes us to obey and act.

Consider an example of a drunkard who gets converted. God will give him the grace and power of not going back to getting drunk but it will literary take this person not to touch the bottle and put it on his mouth. It’s absurd to think that because this person is saved whenever he is tempted to get drunk, an invisible hand of God will always push his hand away from the bottle.

This is what it means to work out our salvation. God gives us the grace and power to reject sin but it takes us to take action to avoid or overcome sin in our lives.

 

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